Monday, April 27, 2015

Short Story: Loved, Part 13 of 15

And it continues.
(But it started here.)

            “And they all lived happily ever after,” Rebekah finished a tale for the children. “Until the next story.”
            “What do you mean, ‘until the next story?’” Lucas asked.
            “Oh,” said Rebekah softly. She hadn’t even realized she added that epilogue. “I suppose I mean that happily ever after doesn’t last very long. There’s always some other story to come along and steal away the happy ending.”
            “And some other ending to bring back the happiness!” Polly chirped.
            “Well…yes. I suppose so.” Rebekah smiled. After she and Polly had held each other and cried until their noses turned red and hurt to touch, the boys had grown impatient and demanded that they stop.
            “That’s enough feeling sorry for yourself, now,” Collin spoke importantly. “There are others of us as well.”
            “Why, Collin, you’re right!” Rebekah sat up.
            “For once,” Polly muttered.
            “No, no, he’s right! There are other people. I mean, well, obviously, but I don’t really care about them! I only care about me! I never even thought to wonder how my mom felt.”
            “Maybe you should ask her,” Lucas offered.
            “I…well…maybe I should. Maybe,” Rebekah’s thoughts wandered. She thought of her mother and all the stories she used to tell her as a child. Rebekah’s lips curled into a smile.
            “Do you guys want to hear a story?” she asked. And so the storytelling resumed. Rebekah told them stories of bravery and stories of friendship, but the greatest story of all was one her mother had told her about the true meaning of love.
            The sun peeked in the windows as Rebekah finished her last story, lighting up the dusty room.
            “Do you think maybe we can take some of these books home with us,” asked Collin. “I have a library card!”
            Rebekah laughed softly. “I don’t know. I guess nobody is using them.”
            “I know! This place is scary in the dark!” Polly said. “But in the light, it looks all nice and pretty. I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to come here. “
            “I wasn’t scared at all,” said Collin, reaching for a book. “Even in the dark.”
            “Eeek!” the three children screamed as a loud thudding sounded at the door. Rebekah’s heart sank, but she turned to face the intruder and block the children from harm. Another loud thudding brought with it the face of the intruder, and much to her relief, it was not the man who hunted her. It was Charlie.
            “Charlie!” the children squealed, and ran around to hug him. He smiled happily, and squeezed each of them in turn. They danced around him, chattering excitedly about their adventure. Charlie looked across the room at Rebekah.
            Her fear returned when she remembered how his gaze could see inside of her. She smiled shyly at him, but felt uncomfortable beneath his powerful eyes. Her masks were gone. They had grown fragile and loose, and the rain and tears washed away the last traces. Rebekah stood before him in her own skin, as vulnerable as could be.
            She shivered. He shouldn’t love me, she thought. I don’t deserve him. And now he can see that.
            Charlie walked over to her. His hand reached out to touch the pale skin on her face. She stood trembling as his hands held her cheeks and his eyes poured over her own face for the first time. He leaned over so his warm breath tickled the tip of her ear. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered, and kissed her on the cheek.
            He leaned back to look her in the eyes.
            “Do you want to finish our date?” he asked. Rebekah’s eyes fell to the floor.
            A thousand thoughts poured through her mind, but one stood out above the rest. She knew she needed to be honest with her mother.
            “I want to go home,” she whispered. Rebekah lifted her face to look up at the man. Her eyes danced uncertainly before his gaze. “To my mother.”
            Charlie swallowed back tears. “Ok,” he whispered back. He had hoped that, despite the gremlin’s words, Rebekah would want to be with him. Her aloofness left an empty feeling in his heart; a hole he thought he must not be competent enough to fill. But Rebekah would be safe, and that was all that mattered.
            “Ok guys, we’ve got to take Rebekah back to her home,” he called to the children, still dancing around gaily.
            “Awwww, can’t she come with us?” Lucas asked. Rebekah shivered, and Charlie placed a hand on her arm to steady her.
            “No,” he said. “She needs to go home for now. She needs to rest and get her strength back. Come on, let’s go.
            They gathered their belongings and headed toward the door. But a dark shadow crossed the threshold as two men stood blocking their passage. The painted man stood with the short man behind him, his dagger-like eyes threatening the on-lookers. “That wench belongs to me,” he growled.

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